Freud’s Horse and Rider

Significantly Freud – Horse and Rider

This painting of a terracotta horse and rider is one of my twelve smaller gilded paintings which together form Significantly Freud: Icons for a Jewish Atheist, representing my favourite twelve artefacts from the private collection of Sigmund Freud.

To Freud this statue represented the Ego riding the Id.  His theory of the unconscious was the basis of his psychoanalysis, where the Ego represented the conscious mind and the Id and Superego lay in the unconscious mind.

The Ego represents the face we present to the world, our civilised persona. The Id represents our primary and animal instincts.


Das Bewusstsein (Conciousness)

The painted red script, Das Bewusstsein, translates as “Consciousness”. This signifies Freud’s deep exploration of the ways in which the unconscious mind can dominate or subvert our daily lives.

Freud’s horse and rider terracotta statue is only 100 mm high, from the Greek Archaic Period about 550 BC.

One of my original sketches for this painting.

“Collecting is key to Freud’s understanding of how we come to be the people we end up as. “The character of the ego,” he writes in The Ego and the Id, “is the precipitate of abandoned object-cathexes… it contains the history of those object choices.” Behind the rather bloodless language lies something more disturbing. Our sense of ourselves – the “I” that we each imagine ourselves to be – is made up of all the people and things we have once cherished and then lost or abandoned. Your identity is the accumulated heap of lost love objects. Which is to say, if you were to wander around your psyche, it might look rather like a room stuffed to the gunnels with dusty old artefacts, some tarnished, and now unloved, some recently rearranged, or polished; rather, in fact, like Sigmund Freud’s study.” (Benjamin Poore Freud’s collections and “The Unconscious”, The Independent, 10 June, 2015)

The colour of the frame and desktop in this painting was inspired by the old worn leather in the chair in front of Freud’s desk.